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April 1, 2010

Fantasy Beat

Phils Lose Blanton

by Marc Normandin

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Joe Blanton is slated to miss 3-6 weeks thanks to a strained oblique suffered Wednesday. This late into spring training, these kinds of injuries have an actual impact on your roster, as you can't simply wave away a chunk of the time missed. Blanton isn't an ace by any means, but as an above-average starter (with newfound strikeout rates) on a team most people are pegging to win not just their division, but potentially a third-straight NL crown, you can see why his departure can mess up a fantasy staff's depth. You're missing out on a few potential wins as well as strikeouts, and not in a month you want to see a pitcher missing thanks to colder weather and the like, either.

Given it's just a few weeks (though potentially closer to a month-and-a-half) you won't want to get rid of Blanton if you own him. The more pressing question is how you replace him--there won't be any pitchers of Blanton's quality left on free agency unless you're in a kiddie-pool sized league with shallow free agent waters, but chances are good you were counting on those April innings to come from somewhere. Kyle Kendrick is the Phillies most likely replacement for him--we had him pegged for 48 innings as a spot starter (and 75 innings overall) in the depth charts, innings it looks like he'll pick up right off the bat. The numbers are not anywhere near Blanton's, and likely won't do much to help anyone, even in the deepest of leagues: 4.80 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 4.1 K/9. He may pick up a couple of wins thanks to the Phils excellent offense, but you may be better off taking another approach to replacing Blanton.

If the starters aren't there on free agency to replace Blanton, see what you can do about creating a two-headed relief pitcher monster in order to snag some of those innings, strikeouts, and maybe even a win or two that you were expecting from Blanton. Many top relievers who have dreams of closing out games are selected at auction, but there are plenty of excellent middle relievers who sit around all year on the waiver wire, never to be selected, because the league you are in doesn't count holds or saves. Someone like Jason Bulger, who is just in the middle of the Angels pen, but is slated to have 67 strikeouts in 60 innings with a solid ERA, is the kind of player you could look for. Daniel Bard isn't expected to take saves from Jonathan Papelbon for a few more seasons, so take his slider and strikeout numbers and forget Blanton is missing. Maybe those two players aren't available to you, but there are more of that pitcher type leftover after drafts than you can count, so start digging to find your temporary replacement(s).

18 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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Richard Bergstrom

Is Blanton really an above average starter in fantasy terms?

Apr 01, 2010 09:57 AM
rating: 0
 
Marc Normandin

It was kind of a sad realization for me last year when it happened. His ERA isn't terrible, he's striking people out, and the Phillies win, which means he's winning.

I mean, I wouldn't rather have Blanton over say, Cliff Lee. Not that anyone would ever make that sort of decision.

Apr 01, 2010 13:54 PM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

I usually don't draft on ERA, just WHIP and K/9. Blanton's WHIP is kind of meh but his K/9 rate has really spiked since he's been in the NL. Is it just a matter of changing leagues or is there something pitch F/X can tell us?

*nudges Swartz or Seidlman*

Apr 02, 2010 18:04 PM
rating: 0
 
allthehardways

Unfortunately, I believe he is.

Apr 01, 2010 10:00 AM
rating: 0
 
CalledStrike3

Pitching....and pitching well in the Phillies rotation made Okie Joe a top 20% starter from June on last summer

Apr 01, 2010 10:14 AM
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Marc Normandin

I remember when I first wrote about it for ESPN last year. I put in some line like, "I can't even believe I'm advocating you pick up Joe Blanton, but there it is." It was early on, too, and it turned out to be solid, but I still feel dirty.

Apr 01, 2010 13:55 PM
rating: 0
 
xavier

I can get him for $10 in a 10-team NL-only. I'm tempted, if the injury was only going to cost him closer to 3 weeks rather than 6. First I hear of 6...

Apr 01, 2010 11:17 AM
rating: 0
 
prs130

Kendrick has always been good against righties, and he's reputedly developed a new pitch to show lefties. Given the aforementioned Phillies offense, he's at least worth keeping an eye on, especially if he's starting against a team that leans right.

Apr 01, 2010 11:22 AM
rating: 1
 
Marc Normandin

Maybe he'll strike out 4.5 hitters per nine now.

Apr 01, 2010 13:56 PM
rating: 0
 
Marc Normandin

Whoops, posted too early. That was supposed to be followed by, "I know he struck out over five per nine last year, but it was in 26 innings--he was still under 4.0 during his time in Triple-A." 143 innings of Triple-A.

Apr 01, 2010 13:57 PM
rating: 0
 
AlexMcCrum

For leagues that haven't drafted yet, what does this do to his draft slot? How likely is a strained oblique to go from 3-6 weeks to an extended portion of the season?

Apr 01, 2010 12:19 PM
rating: 0
 
Marc Normandin

That's probably a question better left for Will Carroll than me, but my general take on that is to see where his price ends up (or what round he falls to) based on the injury, and if it still feels like a deal pull the trigger. Just weigh the risk/reward of the situation.

Apr 01, 2010 13:59 PM
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evaldi

I think Kendrick is underrated relative to what he can do going forward - perhaps not by those who observed his Spring Training, but by most everyone else. While he's in the rotation, I think he is solid for fantasy and for the Phils.

Apr 01, 2010 15:14 PM
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Marc Normandin

I like him more for the Phils than for fantasy. I think you can do better than using him as a replacement for Blanton, is all.

Apr 01, 2010 15:21 PM
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mentalmeat

Where's Pedro?

Apr 01, 2010 18:15 PM
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swarmee

Sitting home until he gets signed by a team.

Apr 01, 2010 19:37 PM
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Marc Normandin

It's totally possible Pedro's arm can't handle a full season again, so he'll do this. Teams will be happy to pay less and have him at his most effective, I'm sure. Expect John Smoltz to get a similar call come July.

Apr 02, 2010 05:40 AM
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swarmee

FWIW, the comment on CBS Sportsline's Pedro page says the Phillies are interested in signing him again due to their injuries.

Apr 02, 2010 13:28 PM
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Baseball Therapy: Case... (04/01)
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